Hot tracks: Stargazing by Kygo, Debussy: Jeux, Khamma & La Boite A Joujoux by Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Shui Lan

Kygo's new five-track EP, which dropped without notice, does not serve anything particularly ground-breaking in the genre of laid-back, tropical house music, which he is renowned for.

Instead, it serves as a vessel to house the Norwegian DJ's string of singles released after last year's debut album, Cloud Nine - music that he has seemingly put out to remain part of the conversation.

There is It Ain't Me, the electro-pop smash hit with Selena Gomez, where her thin vocals are bolstered by a backing choir.

Then there is minimalistic dance track First Time, a collaboration with British pop star Ellie Goulding. The song is buoyed by minimalistic production and Goulding's instantly recognisable vocals singing of nostalgia and young love.

Nostalgia and escapism are themes explored again on slow-burning track This Town, a new single where American singer Sasha Sloan sings: "All of my friends are settling down, they're only kids but they're married now... Baby we got to get out, let's get out of this town."

Kygo's brand of bright-eyed tropical house is in full effect on a new single, the dreamy EP opener Stargazing, featuring the chopped-up vocals of American singer Justin Jesso. It is almost as if his vocals are cleverly used as a replacement for the steel drums or pan pipes that are characteristic of a tropical house track.

  • TROPICAL HOUSE

  • STARGAZING

    Kygo

    Sony

    3/5 stars

Closing the EP is the inexplicable dance-pop remix of Irish rockers U2's latest single You're The Best Thing About Me - it feels unnecessary. U2's attempt to stay relevant to younger audiences has unfortunately left Kygo as collateral damage.

Anjali Raguraman


The Singapore Symphony Orchestra's second all-Debussy recording conducted by music director Shui Lan is an even greater success than its first (La Mer and Images For Orchestra), and that is partly due to the rarity of the pieces covered. All three works come from the later years of French impressionist composer Claude Debussy (1862 to 1918), and are ballets not often heard in concerts or recordings.

  • 20TH-CENTURY CLASSICS

  • DEBUSSY: JEUX, KHAMMA & LA BOITE A JOUJOUX

    Singapore Symphony Orchestra/

    Lan Shui

    BIS 2162

    5/5 stars

Perhaps the most familiar of them is Jeux (1912 to 1913), a frolicsome menage-a-trois between two girls and a boy in a game of tennis, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The music is also among Debussy's finest, even if the themes are elusive on first listening.

Debussy did not survive to complete the orchestrations of the other two ballets, which were originally scripted as piano solos. La Boite A Joujoux (1913), or The Toybox, is a children's ballet, orchestrated by Andre Caplet. It is in the spirit of Debussy's Children's Corner Suite and includes the ragtime dance Le Petit Negre, a close cousin to Golliwogg's Cakewalk.

Virtually unknown is Khamma (1911 to 1912), orchestrated mostly with the help of Charles Koechlin, which has an ancient Egyptian setting and also sounds the most exotic.

Shui and the orchestra's attention to detail and nuance in all three scores - the highlight of the disc - are brilliantly captured in this highly realistic recording. Possessed of a wide dynamic range, this is breathtaking stuff.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe